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This is Us: The Horse Trainer and the “Non-Horsey” Kids

Editor’s Note: This article is Part 2 of a series about “Non-Horsey” family members. Part 1 dealt with trainers with spouses who were not involved in the horse industry. In case you missed Part 1, click here.

From the first ultrasound to their very first steps, there is no doubt that every parent has great dreams and aspirations for their children.

For the horse enthusiast parent, the most common vision is to see their child grow up immersed in horses—loving the animal and the competition as much as they do.

Sometimes, however, those dreams don’t work out quite as planned. Trainers Candy Parrish, Randy Wilson, Tammy Braham, and Rob Meneely weighed in on the subject and told us about their experiences raising those “non-horsey” kids.

The Early Years

One thing these trainer’s kids have in common is their initial involvement with horses. Each of them grew up loving horses and showed in some capacity when they were young.

“Cody and Chase had a pony named Bear that Bret’s dad, the late Kiff Parrish, had gotten us when I was pregnant with Cody,” said Candy Parrish of Pavo, Georgia. “Both the boys spent all of the waking hours riding Bear.”

The Parrish boys; Cody, 24, and Chase, 21, showed in leadline and walk-trot as soon as they were old enough to do so. Both boys won the Small Fry Western Pleasure at the Congress; the first and only time each of them showed in it— Cody in 2002 on Untouchable Too and Chase in 2005 on Skipafied.

Tammy Braham of Grove City, Pennsylvania notes her daughter Aubrey, 21, has always been very involved in horses, but her son, Dylan (pictured right), 19, only showed for about a year. “Not very willingly,” she adds, “He showed HRC Potential Star and The Impressive Zippo in walk-trot events.” Tammy jokes that those two horses probably made it too easy for him.

Similarly, both Meneely boys; Ryan, 21, and Michael, 18, spent a small amount of time in the show pen as well. Rob Meneely tells us, “Ryan rode for a little bit and showed in the walk-trot and Michael showed in the leadline at just one show, and that was all he ever did.”

Randy Wilson’s daughter, Whitney, 23, is currently a familiar face in the show pen, but his son, Chase, 26, also had a young career in showing. “He started out showing the walk-trot and did very well at Congress. Then, we got him another mare, and he showed until he was about 12 and was very successful at it.”

A Different Form of Passion

Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Singer Jon Bon Jovi once said, “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” Even though some of these kids, now young adults, didn’t have as much interest in showing horses, their passions took them other places. Their horse trainer parents were more than happy to let them follow their dreams.

In high school, Ryan (pictured left) and Michael Meneely (pictured below) were passionate about playing football. Currently, they are training to become pilots. It never bothered Rob or his wife, Mary, who is the NCEA Western Coach for Auburn, that their boys weren’t involved in horses because they each had something they were passionate about.

Dylan Braham was involved in swimming, wrestling, and competitive shooting when he was in school. These days Dylan is very involved in motocross and spends a lot of time traveling and competing. “He was given the opportunity and ability to follow his path,” says Tammy, “Whatever he chose was okay with me.”

Chase Parrish’s passion was always on the football field. Candy shares, “He changed schools in eighth grade to play quarterback at Colquitt Count, the highest classification in the state of Georgia. Chase was starting quarterback in 2014 and 2015 and led his team to a 30-0 record, two state championships, and a national title.” His passion for football led him to a scholarship at the Naval Academy where he is currently a sophomore.

Candy conveys, “We watched Chase put blood, sweat, and tears into his sport—we knew he chose the right path for him and were thankful to be along for the ride.”

Golf is the passion that drives Chase Wilson (pictured left – far right). “He was in a private school and wanted to go to a public school so he could try to get a Division I scholarship,” says Randy, who lives in Findlay, Ohio. “His work ethic when he chose golf was unbelievable. He got a Division I scholarship and won several tournaments in his high school career. He then attended High Point University and played all four years there, winning several tournaments. Chase turned pro right after college, and he has had a very successful pro career ever since.”

Additionally, he shares, “I think you have to let your children follow their dreams and give them the support they need.”

Making It Work

Horse Trainer—while the job title seems glamorous, it’s a very time-consuming job that requires a lot of travel. Fortunately, these horse trainer parents knew the time they spent with their children was valuable and made sure not to miss any part of watching them chase their dreams.

The Parrish’s give a lot of credit to Bret’s mom, Sandra, as she would keep the boys when school kept them from going on the road with them. “We tried very hard not to run up and down the road every weekend, and we were always home for holidays,” states Candy. “For several years at the Congress, we would fly from Columbus to Georgia on Fridays, watch their games and fly back to Columbus that same night after the game. We didn’t want to miss any part of them growing up.”

“Michaels’ football games would be on Friday, and Ryan played football for Auburn University, and his games were on Saturday, so that was really hard,” shares Rob Meneely, “We tried to schedule so that we didn’t have so many horse shows in the fall so we could get to more football games. If I couldn’t make it, my wife, Mary would go. One of us always tried to be at their games.”

Randy Wilson tells us, “We always found a way. It was much harder when Chase went to college in North Carolina, but any time we did not have a horse show, we went and watched him compete in his tournaments and sometimes we would skip out on a horse show to go watch him compete.” (Chase Wilson pictured below right)

“Even though I am away from home quite a bit through showing, judging and coaching college teams, I always tried to make the most of my time while at home with my kids,” explains Tammy Braham. “There is always a way to make it work, and, while it may be true that Dylan and I didn’t get to spend as much time together as Aubrey and I did, I think that made our time together even more important and valuable.”

While these “non-horsey” kids didn’t follow in their parents’ footsteps, they found what they were most passionate about and have carved out great success doing what they love.

About the Author: Kyle Pears, of Sebring, Florida, graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and real estate. He has spent most of his life immersed in horses. After working in the quarter horse industry as an assistant trainer, he has taken a job in real estate, although he still plans to remain very active in the horse industry.